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Archive for April 2015

Internet Neutrality v/s Telecom Neutrality

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OK, Lets take the much talked about topic of Net Neutrality head on. We have heard enough allegations, counter allegations and then some. Even for Computer geeks the concept of Net Neutrality is quite new, leave aside the mere surfers. Let me try and break it to bare bones.

Net Neutrality means bandwidth and airwaves are not partial to what data is flowing through. Also equal opportunity, which has led to a lot of innovation. There are two so called attacks on net neutrality. One is Airtel Zero or internet.org (facebook). Other is charging premium for whatsapp data usage.

My viewpoint on whatsapp premium is as follows. Telecom companies plead that they have paid heavily for Airwaves. They are also bound by rules and regulations. The new apps like whatsapp which have taken everyone by surprise provide services similar to sms/calls but are not bound by the same rules. What Telecom companies are asking for is a Telecom-Neutrality. For investment in telecom infrastructure, what we need is a healthy balance sheet of telecom companies. My view is since telecom companies have paid through their noses for airwaves in 2G/3G auctions, they have right to earn handsome. TV channels including news channels, ups the ad rates during IPL finals or such major events; Also tie the ad rates with TRP’s. Why are then telecom companies being targeted alone?

Well for one it’s easy to target someone who charges people money every min of the day for just uttering a word. I feel rather than targeting telecom companies, what we should fight for is level playing field. Rules and Regulations should be same for everyone providing same services. Whatsapp is no saint. They have already made 20 billion dollars. Who paid for it? You would say Facebook. I say no. I say Whatsapp has earned at the expense of the same telecom companies. We should ask Whatsapp a piece of that 20billion USD made out of next to zero investment, rather than berating telecom companies who have invested a lot.

Next is the issue of telecom companies partnering with selected websites and making them available for free. Well on the face of it I was enraged too. How can this be done? It means propagating few websites. Since people tend to choose surfing for free, it would also mean limiting the meaning of internet for the people.

Then I looked at the stats of internet penetration in India. It’s just 20% of population. Few people out of these 20% people are the one raising hue and cry. What about the rest 80% who don’t have access to internet. Don’t they have a right to internet? If they get internet for free in whatever shape, isn’t it better? No, say the high and mighty. Shallow moral arguments are put forward. Who cares for the betterment of 80%, when a small portion of the 20% who are on twitter/facebook rule the roost. I admit someone is going to too make money out of this zero/org initiatives but as long as 80% people get to access internet for free, I will be the first one to support it.

For all those who are against, I say this, you please find a better solution to take internet free of cost to the 80% and I will support you.

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Written by arpitgarg

April 20, 2015 at 8:23 pm

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